Tough Travelling“Tough Traveling” is a weekly Thursday feature created by Nathan at Review Barn where participants make a new list each week based on The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This hilarious little book cheerfully pokes fun at the most prevalent tropes in fantasy. All are welcome to take part, and there is a link up over at his site. Join in any time!

This week’s trope is BARDS:

BARDS often join questing parties and provide entertainment around the campfire.  Sometimes their music even holds a little bit of magic.  Or a clue to an ancient mystery.  Or…

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m actually a pretty serious musician. My principal instrument is the flute, which I tried to sneak on this list! I chose a group of musicians ranging from exceptionally skilled to exceptionally bad, and threw in a few with…unusual gifts.

SeraphinaSeraphina – Seraphina by Rachel Hartman 

Seraphina is a young musician recently come to the court of Goredd, impressing many with her virtuosic talent on the flute. While technically precise, she is admired because beauty of her music moves many in the court to tears. Seraphina is also the music tutor for the Princess Glisselda.
 CastleFflewddur Fflam – The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander  

For most of the series Fflewddur serves as comedic relief: he is an embarrassingly poor musician whose lute strings snap whenever he tells a lie…which is often. Probably why his music is so awful. But near the end of the series he redeems himself, using his lute in an altogether different fashion to much better success.

The Pied Piper Pied Piper – The Pied Piper of Hamelin 

Based on a German legend from the Middle Ages, this folktale was popularized by the Brothers Grimm and the English poet Robert Browning. Man lures young children away from their beds with magical music? Hella creepy. Despite wracking my brain, the Pied Piper was the only bard/musician I could think of whose aims were evil. Am I missing anyone?

 Wee Free Men by Terry PratchettThe Gonnagle – Discworld series by Terry Pratchett 

Each Nac Mac Feegle clan (fairy folk) has a gonnagle, a title given to a poet-bard. This bard’s task is to compose poetry so terrible it will bewilder and demoralize their enemies in battle…and some gonnagles can make their enemies’ ears explode by playing their mousepipes (bagpipes made out of mouse skin).RIP Terry Pratchett.